The Yakumama is one of the most powerful Amazonian spirits. She is the mother of the waters, the serpent that brings life to the Amazonian world. The Yakumama may be offended by excessive fishing, pollution, loud boats, and other
careless actions taken against her river.
She has the power to bring fish and life to an area of the river, and the power to take it away. Respectful of her strength, people are careful not to frighten or offend her. To post-industrial Western minds, these stories may seem far-fetched. But whoever sees the Amazon from the perspective of Amazonians will understand that these stories work as “seeing instruments” that help us develop an understanding of the larger physical and spiritual world and entire bioregions. These are not just stories for entertainment. They are symbolic narratives and cautionary tales capable of teaching us. Some people who live outside of Amazonia, even those living nearby in Iquitos, do not always respect this Mother of the Waters.